The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pride themselves on fundamentals. All throughout the offseason, Greg Schiano emphasized fundamentals. Extensive daily tackling drills, training ball security, drilling all of the small things - that was what the Bucs did this offseason. Through the first three games, that looked pretty good: there weren't many missed tackles and the Tampa Bay run defense looked incredible. In game four, though, that changed. The Bucs allowed Alfred Morris to run for 113 yards on just 21 carries - and most of that total came in the first half.
So what changed? Suddenly, the Bucs couldn't tackle. One play illustrates this more than any other: Alfred Morris' big 39-yard touchdown.
It's pretty easy to see what happened here, and three players are specifically at fault. First, at the start of the play, you can see Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (#50) fail to come off a block on time to stop Morris in the hole. That's not a huge mistake: Te'o-Nesheim has to set the edge and can't let Morris get outside, but he has a chance to make a big play at the line of scrimmage.
The next two failures are a lot more egregious, however. First, Eric Wright has a chance to bring him down in the hole, but just slides off Morris. The worst culprit here is Ronde Barber, though: he overshoots his tackle and completely misses Morris. This isn't the first time Barber has struggled with tackles, and this will continue to be an issue as long as he's playing. That's one thing when you're a cornerback, but it's disastrous when you're a safety and supposed to be the last line of defense.
This play represented the biggest run the team has given up this year, certainly an improvement over last year, but it could easily have been stopped for a five-yard gain. That would have given the Bucs a chance to keep the Redskins out of the endzone - a pretty important play in a game that was essentially decided by a single point. It would also have made Morris' big day on the ground look a lot worse: he rushed for 74 yards on his other 20 carries, for an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
The Bucs aren't going to be stellar in run defense on every play, and just one mishap can lead to a loss, as it did here. That's not to say that this play was the only cause, but it certainly played a role - and it's probably the easiest play to fix. Greg Schiano claims the Bucs will continue to do work on fundamentals this week, and looking at this play, that may be necessary.